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3 Simple Cheesy Appetizers

A stress-free kickstart to Thanksgiving dinner

Cheddar Scallion Dip

A cousin to pimento cheese but without those potentially child-deflecting red peppers, this cream cheese-based dip is mild and slightly sweet from a splash of fresh orange juice. Pack it in a lunchbox with celery and crackers for your kids.


Yield: 1 cup

  • 4 ounces cream cheese (at room temperature), cubed

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise

  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced

  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt, more to taste

  • Black pepper, to taste (optional)

  • ¼ teaspoon sweet paprika

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice, as needed

  • ½ cup sharp Cheddar, finely grated

  • 1 small garlic clove, mashed to a paste (optional)

  • Hot sauce to taste (optional)


Step 1

Place the cream cheese, mayonnaise, scallion, salt, pepper (if using) and paprika in a bowl and mix and mash well with a fork or spatula until smooth. Mix in orange juice until smooth, and then mix in the Cheddar. If the dip seems too thick, add a little more juice. Taste for seasoning. You can also mix in a food processor if you like.

Baked Brie

Choose any flavor jam for the topping. Orange or ginger marmalade will give you something tangier than, say, raspberry and cherry jam, which are sweeter, more mellow options. While a wedge of brie will work in this recipe, a round of brie looks prettiest.


Yield: 8 or more servings

  • 1 piece of brie or Camembert, 4 to 8 ounces, cold

  • 1sheet puff pastry chilled but not frozen

  • 2 tablespoons thick jam or marmalade, any flavor

  • 1egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

  • 1tablespoon demerara sugar (optional)


  • Step 1 Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Using a large chef’s knife, cut the white rind off the top of the brie and discard. (This works best when the cheese is very cold.)

  • Step 2 Roll the chilled dough to about ⅛-inch thick. Transfer the rolled dough to a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Place the brie at the center of the dough square and then spread the jam over the top of cheese. Drape the four corners of the dough, one at a time, across the brie to enclose it. If there is too much overlapping dough, trim the sides before draping. You want the dough just to cover the brie.

  • Step 3 Brush the egg wash over the brie, making sure it does not pool where it meets the tray or it will stick. Sprinkle with the sugar if using. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 35 to 45 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and cooked through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 8 to 10 minutes before serving warm.

Crispy Feta With Lemon

When heat touches feta, its exterior crisps while its interior becomes surprisingly creamy and soft. Turning it into a dazzling appetizer takes very little: Dust the cheese with cornstarch and sesame seeds, sauté it in butter, then finish it with a squeeze of lemon. You can perch it atop a cracker, or eat it on its own, in awe of the sum of so few parts.


Yield: About 16 servings

  • 1(8-ounce) package block feta, preferably not in brine

  • 3tablespoons cornstarch

  • 1tablespoon sesame seeds

  • 2tablespoons unsalted butter

  • Flaky salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Red-pepper flakes, for serving

  • Lemon wedges, for serving


  • Step 1 Cut the feta in ¼-inch-thick slices, then cut each rectangular slice in half crosswise to form two squares. You should end up with about 16 squares. Transfer the squares to a paper towel on your cutting board and pat dry.

  • Step 2 In a large shallow bowl or rimmed plate, stir together the cornstarch and sesame seeds. Working with one at a time, gently coat the feta on both sides with the cornstarch mixture.

  • Step 3 In a large, nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the feta in a single layer and cook until golden-brown, about 1 minute. Using a spatula, gently flip and cook until golden-brown on the other side. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with flaky salt, black pepper and red-pepper flakes. Serve warm with crackers or toasted baguette slices, with lemon wedges alongside for squeezing on top.

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